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Bars wear a deserted look after the Supreme Court banned liquor shops within 500 metres on either side of the national and state highways.IANS

Tipplers are in for tough days. All those weekend plans of Bangaloreans to get together in a pub at the city's central business district and throwing back a few drinks have been dashed as the Supreme Court's ruling banning sale of liquor within 500 metres of highways comes into effect today, July 1.

The excise department had refused to renew the liquor licenses of many pubs, restaurants and even star hotels located on Brigade Road, Church Street, MG Road and Indiranagar and about 340 pubs and bars also received formal notices that ordered them to stop selling alcohol from June 30 midnight.

The mood of pub-owners was subdued on Friday and many hoped that there would be some good news, but nothing came by midnight. Many pubs stopped taking orders by 11.30 pm as they would have to shut down by 12 am.

The unsold stock was sealed by the Excise Department soon after the pubs downed their shutters. Pubs will also be required to file a closure report along with the sales figures and also the details of the remaining stock. Then will then surrender their licenses unless they have decided to relocate and have paid the relocation fee.

"It is a sad day in the history of Bengaluru," The Hindu quoted Ashish Kothare, director of Le Rock, as saying. "There is a lot of discussion on this topic and the message being sent out is to wait and watch. If there can be a solution to this problem keeping the spirit of the court judgement unharmed, it would be better to wait 10-15 days before deciding," added owner of another pub.

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Meanwhile, partygoers and pub hoppers are finding it hard to believe that their regular haunts will not be the same again and some even seem to be in denial. Instead of going to other places, many regulars have now said that they would rather party at home.

"I feel like it is something that will tide over soon. The area has been associated with pubs for the longest time and it is shocking to know that these places will be closed so suddenly," the daily quoted Piya Das, a regular at Pecos.

"They can't keep pubs closed forever. This is part of the economy and contributes taxes. Bengaluru is known for its pub culture. I believe the result will be positive," Akhilesh Rao, corporate lawyer and "proud pub hopper" told the Times of India.

Even though the Supreme Court had earlier said that starting April 1, all liquor shops within 500 metres of national and state highways will have to down shutters, it had exempted Sikkim and Meghalaya from the directive due to its unique terrain and small population.